MHRN LEGISLATIVE SESSION SUMMARY – WEEK 5
Bad bills have been stacking up and getting pushed through this week! Thank you for continuing to reach out to your legislators on these issues. It can feel overwhelming, but your persistence matters.
It takes several steps for bills to get to the governor’s desk, and that’s why you’re seeing the same information a few weeks in a row. It’s fine to use the same talking points as a bill moves from a committee to the floor, and then goes to the opposite chamber. An email that’s 2-3 sentences long is all you need to tell your senator or representative yes or no on a bill!
Click here to email your legislators or call the Capitol switchboard at 406-444-4800 to leave them a message.
Here are the most recent updates on the legislation we’re following.
NO to HB 200 and HB 223 – Anti-immigrant legislation
These two anti-immigrant bills are getting approved and passed through the system. HB 200 prohibits sanctuary cities in Montana, even though none currently exist. HB 223 would compel local law enforcement officers to be pulled into immigration issues, which could increase racial profiling and erode trust between police and Montana residents.
Action – Please tell the Senate Judiciary Committee and your senator NO on HB 200, and tell your House member NO on HB 223.
NO on SB 138 and HB 241, YES on SB 4, HB 35, and HB 36 – Indigenous safety and sovereignty
We are thrilled to see legislation creating resources to fight the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and people get overwhelming approval! This success is due to years of work by Indigenous organizers in Montana. See action items below.
There are also two bills attacking tribal sovereignty that need to be defeated. That’s possible if legislators hear that non-Native people also object strongly to these bills.
SB 138 attempts to repeal a temporary tax exemption for tribal properties applying for federal trust status. This exemption starts when an application for tax exempt status is filed, and the overall process can take years. This tax exemption has helped tribes restore and protect lands that were stolen from them. SB 138 seeks to allow the tax exemption only when land is approved as tribal trust property.
Action – SB 138 had a hearing in the Senate Taxation Committee this week, but they have not voted yet. Please contact that committee and urge them to vote NO.
HB 241 just entered the legislative process. This bill would violate tribal sovereignty by allowing a state agency, not tribal nations, to make decisions about hunting on reservation lands. There are many examples of state authorities and tribal governments working together successfully, so there is no reason for this attack on treaty rights.
Action – Tell the House Fish, Wildlife, and Park Committee NO on HB 241. This bill is scheduled for a hearing there on Tuesday, Feb 9.
MMIW/P action items
We’re thrilled to let you know that SB 4 has passed the Montana Legislature! The bill extends the Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force that was created in 2019. The bill passed the House this week and previously passed the Senate. Thank you for all of the emails and calls in support of this bill!
YES on HB 35, which would establish a missing persons review commission. This is being considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee, so please tell them to vote YES on HB 35.
YES on HB 36, which establishes a missing persons response team training. This is also being considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee, so please tell them to vote YES on HB 35.
NO on SB 112
This anti-transgender bill would prevent trans youth from playing in school sports, and we are waiting for it to be assigned to a committee. Until then, please contact your senator and tell him NO to HB 112. Click here for talking points.
NO on SB 176 – Voting rights
Legislators revived a bill to repeal Montana’s very successful same-day voting registration law. If this passes, many young voters, new voters, and Indigenous voters would miss out on voting. Same-day Election Day voter registration would be eliminated under HB 176, and late voter registration would close at noon the day before Election Day.
Action – This bill passed the House, so please contact your senator and say NO to SB 176.
One new bill was added to the collection of anti-choice bills that some legislators are eager to pass. HB 229 would prohibit insurance policies obtained from the Affordable Care Act from covering abortion. It is likely to have a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, so please contact this committee and your senator to say NO to HB 229.
Four other anti-choice bills were approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and will go to a vote on the Senate floor. Please contact your senator and urge them to vote NO. You can read more about these bills here.
YES on HB 228 – Montana Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act
HB 228 would establish the Montana Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act (the FAMLI Act), which is especially needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. This will help all Montanans stay healthier, regardless of their circumstances. When people have the freedom to care for their loved ones, we are truly seeing family values at work. You can read more from the Montana Budget and Policy Center here.
Action – This bill has a hearing in the Business and Labor Committee next week. Please contact the committee members and say YES to HB 228.
No on HB 244, Yes on upcoming bill opposing the death penalty
HB 244, which would change the requirements for drugs used for lethal injections, had a hearing this week in the House Judiciary Committee. Right now executions cannot take place in Montana because the “ultra fast-acting” drugs that had been previously used are no longer manufactured. Read more here and here.
This bill is attempting to strike specific language in the bill to allow alternative drugs for execution, but it is uncertain if those drugs are fully tested for humane executions.
Action – Please contact the House Judiciary Committee and say NO to HB 244.
LC 1291 (bill name will change when it is officially introduced) seeks to end the death penalty in Montana. Representative Ed Stafman, a rabbi and an attorney who has defended hundreds of people in death penalty cases, is the bill sponsor. Click here for a victim’s perspective on the death penalty.
Due to systemic racism, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color are disproportionately sentenced to death.
The death penalty risks executing innocent people.
Death penalty cases are more costly.
Execution has a traumatizing effect on victims’ families and public employees who carry out the act.
Action – Tell your legislator that you want Montana’s death penalty abolished. We will let you know when this bill is introduced.
NO on HB 209 – Sexual assault survivor’s rights
HB 209 faced harsh criticism for wording that appeared to amend statute 40‐6‐1001. This bill would have allowed a convicted rapist to assert parental rights if the Court determined it was in the best interests of the child.
The bill has been withdrawn and is classified as “likely dead,” but a revision could appear in the future. At the request of Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, we’re asking you to contact the House Judiciary Committee and tell them NO to HB 209 until the bill is significantly amended.
NO on SB 89, HB 168 and HB 251 – Worker protection
HB 89, HB 168, SB 251 are all bills attacking the freedom of workers to belong to unions, have union dues subtracted from their paychecks, and work through union representatives to negotiate wages and benefits.
These bills falsely imply that union membership is coerced, and they represent government overreach and an assault on the freedom of speech. Public and private sector workers like nurses, educators, police, and state troopers who protect, serve, educate, and care for Montana citizens deserve to have the freedom to organize without burdensome restrictions.
We’re proud to stand with our allied union members to fight these attempts to limit their rights. It’s important to remember that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights lists forming and joining unions as a fundamental human right.
HB 168 had a hearing in the House Business and Labor Committee this week, so please contact that committee and your House member and say NO.
HB 251 would implement Right to Work policies in Montana. Contact the House Business and Labor Committee and your House member and say NO to HB 251.
SB 89 – Urge your senator to say NO to this bill.
No on HB 258, HB 102, and SB 158 – Gun safety
Another threat to public safety showed up this week with SB 158, which would allow legislators to carry concealed weapons at the state Capitol.
Democracy cannot take place at the end of a gun barrel. Everyone, from lawmakers to community members, should feel comfortable coming to the Montana Capitol and lending their voices and opinions to the process. With lawmakers carrying firearms, we worry that people with opposing views may feel too intimidated to take part.
Action item – Please tell your senator to vote NO on SB 158.
HB 258 prohibits the enforcement of any federal regulation regarding firearms. As you can imagine, this would remove many gun safety regulations that have been carefully created at the state and local level. The House Judiciary Committee is still considering this bill. Contact the committee and your House member and tell them NO on HB 258.
HB 102, which would allow for permitless open carry in Montana and force colleges to allow guns on campuses, has passed and is headed for the governor’s approval. Thank you for all of your phone calls and emails about this terrible bill. For more information on this bill, click here.
No on HB 121, SB 108, HB 236, SB 67, and HB 144 – Militia ideology undermining county health boards
All of these bills are attempts to undermine the authority of county health boards and give more power to county sheriffs and county commissions. This shift in power toward elected county officials is a key component in militia ideology, called county supremacy. You can read more about the problems with these bills and get talking points here.
SB 67 will be voted on by the House. Please tell your representative NO on HB 67.
HB 144 will have a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee next week, so please tell them and your senator NO on HB 144.
HB 236 was just referred to the House Business and Labor Committee. Please contact that committee and your representative and tell them NO on HB 236.
SB 108 is going to the House, so please tell your representative NO on SB 108.
HB 121 is also in the House Business and Labor Committee, please tell that committee and your representative NO.